Rozner: White Sox a good bet? Anything's possible
Five months ago, before the world closed and Vegas was still a thing, you would have been looking at baseball odds in a decidedly different way.
Had you stumbled into a sportsbook late one night and wondered about the White Sox, you would have found them at 65-1 to win the World Series and 30-1 to win the pennant.
Fair numbers for a team that won 72 games last season.
Despite the optimism coming into this season, young players can be unpredictable and this appeared to be a year in which the Sox would try to play their way into contention for a wild card, and use that as a springboard for a genuine playoff run in 2021.
That would have been a very reasonable way to see the 2020 season.
"The entire purpose of this rebuild was to put ourselves in a position to win multiple championships," GM Rick Hahn said in January at SoxFest. "So the progress that we make in any given offseason has to be viewed, not just with what's going to happen in that upcoming season, but what position that puts us in toward accomplishing that long-term goal.
"We want to make sure we are well-positioned once that window opens to win as many championships as possible. When that window opens? We're going to find out together."
It did not seem likely that it would be this season, not with the Yankees loaded, the Astros -- cheating or not -- with a formidable roster, the Twins coming off a 101-win season and the Athletics (97 wins) and Rays (96) with big dreams.
A .500 season and meaningful games in the second half would have been a big step up for the Sox.
But much has changed since then and a 60-game season has opened the door for more than half the teams in the game. If you now thought of the Sox as one of them, you wouldn't be crazy.
A short schedule means less of a separation from top to bottom and that's why the South Siders' odds have dropped from 65-1 to 25-1 (World Series) and from 30-1 to 15-1 (pennant).
You can get those revised numbers at Rivers Casino sportsbook online or on your phone and you don't even have to drive there to set it up. Yeah, so much for all of Illinois' idiotic rules. They went out the door with the pandemic.
The Sox are currently the eighth choice in the American League behind New York, Houston, Minnesota, Tampa, Cleveland, Boston and Oakland.
But when you combine the short season with the possibility that teams will lose players to injury or COVID-19, you can see why just about anything's possible.
You might also consider the mood on the South Side. While this is far less important than talent, performance and health, it's worth noting that the Sox are very happy to be back on the field and glad to be playing this season.
They're young, excited, optimistic and a team on the rise with a chance to steal games while teams are trying to decide whether they even want to be here.
There are many camps where much of what you hear about is concern for inadequate testing, fear of what might be next, doubt that the season will ever start and players opting out.
These are all legitimate and no one should minimize those concerns or criticize players who worry, especially those with families or loved ones with underlying health conditions. Nevertheless, it's difficult to see players at their best when they haven't done enough to prepare or don't really want to be involved, when their focus is elsewhere.
All things being equal and over 162 games -- given health -- players find the fire and fuel necessary and talent wins out. And there are some rosters with a ridiculous amount of talent.
But all things are not equal in 2020, not that you need reminding.
So who knows how this will play out, but assuming decent luck with injuries and testing, the White Sox certainly have the lineup to get it done. If their starters find it quickly, and the bullpen arms hold up, it's not absurd to think this program moves up a year and the Sox get into the thick of this race.
It might be suggested here that stranger things have happened, but it's 2020. Every day is stranger than the last.